Senators Boxer and Feinstein Applauded for Opposing Big Oil Bailout

Environment California

As the damage escalates from the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Environment California applauded Senators Boxer and Feinstein today for voting against legislation that would have blocked new rules requiring cars and light trucks to use less oil.  A recent analysis found that the Senate measure rejected today would have increased California’s dependence on oil by more than 62 million gallons in 2016.  The binding resolution, which was rejected by the U.S. Senate today by a vote of 53-47 and which was introduced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, also would have cost Californians $187 million at the gas pump in 2016.  The environmental and economic impacts would have been even greater over time.

“The Gulf disaster is a painful reminder that we must move our country off of oil.  We’re thankful that today Senators Boxer and Feinstein voted against this Washington bailout to Big Oil and other polluters,” said Environment California Clean Energy Advocate Bernadette Del Chiaro. “We look forward to working with Senators Boxer and Feinstein to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill through the Senate this year.”

The Senate rejected Senator Murkowski’s Congressional Review Act resolution (S.J.R. 26), which would have blocked key policies to reduce America’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, including the historic clean car standards finalized earlier this year.

 On April 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation finalized a joint rule to decrease the oil consumption of Model Year 2012-2016 cars and light trucks sold in the United States.  But, if Senator Murkowski’s resolution had been enacted, EPA would have had to rescind its standard, forfeiting one-quarter of the joint rule’s oil savings – 455 billion barrels of oil nationally over the lifetimes of those vehicles – according to the EPA.  This amount of oil is equivalent to letting the BP spill continue at the same rate for 65 years.

Moreover, the resolution would have prohibited the EPA from setting pollution reduction standards for big trucks and buses, and passenger vehicles after 2016 – actions President Obama announced on May 21 in the Rose Garden and which could cut America’s oil use by billions of additional barrels.

A recent Environment California analysis examined the state-by-state impacts of blocking EPA’s Model Year 2012-2016 clean cars standard.  Since the analysis is limited to the impacts of blocking this one standard, the results underestimate the effect of the resolution on oil use and consumer costs.  In California, the resolution would have:

·      Increased California’s dependence on oil by more than 62 million gallons in 2016. 

·      Cost Californians $187 million at the gas pump in 2016, assuming gas costs the same as it does today.

 “This bailout would have increased California’s pocketbooks,” said Del Chiaro.

Senator Murkowski is the # 3 recipient in Congress of money from Big Oil and the #2 recipient of money from electric utilities so far this election cycle.  Her resolution was backed by Big Oil and other polluters.  More notably, it was opposed by national security organizations and veterans, the UAW, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, former Republican EPA Administrator Russell Train, American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of scientists, environmental organizations, and governors, attorneys general, and top environmental officials of numerous states, including Governor Schwarzenegger.   President Obama also said that he would veto the measure if it had somehow passed the Senate and House of Representatives and made it to his desk.

“This bill was an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act protections that have cost-effectively cut dangerous pollution to safeguard our health and environment for 40 years, while also driving technological innovation,” said Del Chiaro.  “With oil spewing into the Gulf and global warming impacts becoming more noticeable every year, we need to be adding new measures to cut pollution—not undercutting the protections we already have.”

 “Senator Boxer and Feinstein’s leadership was critical to today’s vote against the Big Oil Bailout, and we’ll need their continued leadership to help transition to a clean energy economy.  We urge the Senator to do everything in their power to ensure that a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill passes the Senate this year,” said Del Chiaro.